Cleanliness is next to Godliness! The concept of orderliness and cleanliness shows best result when it is absorbed in thoughts, beliefs and value system. The mind is prone to develop thoughts every minute. This leads to clutter of ideas and a reverie of thoughts. Productivity increases when these thoughts are pruned and guided. Ideas may spring in at any moment. Ideas become productive when implemented. Hence it would then, require pondering and grooming substantiated with research to convert it into a fruitful action. The mental process to avoid wastefulness in thoughts can be learnt from the 5S program.
This process was originally implemented in manufacturing companies as a house keeping program to promote safety and productivity. The core concept focussed on orderliness of machinery and other office equipments. At an individual level, during the work hours, we end up scattering papers and stationeries at our workstations. This would not only create a clutter but promote hazard and wastefulness. Often we may not know the stock of what we hold. An audit followed by labelling may be undertaken, but it often remains one-time affair, hence it loses its magnitude. In a manufacturing unit, risk from misplacements of office equipments tumults as the safety depends on the placement of machineries and its maintenance. Furthermore, cleanliness is archetypal in creating a better focus. 5 S is implemented across all the verticals, to promote this orderliness. Thus, increases the productivity for the organization.
Here we simulate the 5S practices to implement them in the thought process. We consider the mental steps and the targets to be accomplished with every S. Ideally, at any given moment, we get an uncountable number of thoughts. It’s important to set a mind free from these thoughts. A system based thought process may help the individual, especially in a routine structure where an agreed level of productivity needs to be delivered regularly.
Seiri: Sort your thoughts from the valiant reverie. Each time you lose yourself into thinking, try and categorise your thoughts into different heads. Define broad heads among every thoughts you have to categorise.
Seiton: Set in order the way process or thoughts should be. When you have categorised them broadly, try and drill down to specific areas and prioritise them. Suppose you have a thought about your car when you were at a meeting. You need to focus at the meeting yet your thoughts keep going back to your car. Drill down to what you were thinking about the car. Was it the insurance or wrong parking? If it was about a missed insurance payment it’s a priority for you. If it is parked under the sun, you can do a little about it. Hence the thought gets categorised in the non-priority list.
Seiso: Shine and clean the systems off the unrequited objects. Every thought will have subject and matter. The matter may have too many ingredients. Post drilling and prioritising the thoughts, churn-out the unrequited parts. Start with insurance payment and decide on the time when you would be paying it. Once you have declared yourself a date and time any worries about the non-payment or extra-fees dies down. You automatically accept the result.
Seiketsu: Standardize and create guideline for what is benchmarked, to set uniformity. For e.g.: You get many thoughts during an activity , each time you catch yourself loosing into the reverie, draw your attention back to the present. The practise of mindfulness is not limited to the experiences of the present moment, but primarily to pin yourself back, each time you lose your way. As you would go on repeating this, no sooner you would develop the practise of loosing minimum amount of time in thinking about any situation beyond the present moment.
Shitsuke: Sustain and discipline towards the goal achievement. Practise maketh a man perfect. Once you have defined the process for yourself, test it in different environment. Check the thought processes under stress. Suppose, in a client call, a team member agrees to a fault in the product not reported to you earlier. This sudden declaration may result in losing the client. In such a situation, watch-out for your thought process. Focus on what is being prioritised by you. There are chances that thoughts are not triggered from the strength. Hence triggers, such as rebuffing the team member, or hiding the product fault becomes your natural reaction. But as you have taken a step back to see what you were thinking , you would cool down and then take the best approach, to accept the defect and offer the client best solution which can get them greater benefits. Though this time taken to rethink would initially deem greater, nevertheless would zero down eventually.
Contrarily, creative abilities may require the mind to be set free away from definite mental models. The creative mind works very differently in routine. It may not show any result when pushed into a new structure. Yet, focus remains the point which enhances creativity. Building a routine to maintain the focus for a longer duration would stay put the productivity. Hence following the steps mentioned in 5S may prove fruitful. It is important to guard against too much of a labelling. Compartmentalized thought-process should offer better focus. The core aim is to free mind enough to focus on the top priority for the moment.
As suggested by Peter Bregman in, Not enough Time, try doing nothing, “Next time you have a strong emotion or inclination to act, you’ll have a little more presence to help you evaluate whether that action will, ultimately, help or hurt”. The practise may seem difficult each time the situation gets complex. Yet that becomes a building block when that hindrance is used as learning. We consider the processes and system over our natural capabilities to tune us towards greater productivity and achievement of results.